How the #LesserOfTwoEvils Attitude is Killing Democracy
It’s 2012 and we have a big presidential election coming up in November. Most people I talk to cannot fully endorse a major party candidate, but are going to vote for one anyway. To justify this action, they explain how they are making their vote count by choosing the “lesser of two evils”.
On the surface, the “lesser of two evils” argument makes sense because it recognizes the unlikelihood of electing a third-party candidate. After looking more closely, I was able to see how the “lesser of two evils” attitude is not entirely rational and is actually killing our democracy.
What’s Wrong With the Two-party System
In a two-party system, candidates go up against opponents with fundamentally opposite views. Successful politicians are consistent, convicted, and blindly passionate – but those are not the trademarks of a good problem solver.
Good problem solvers are able to set aside differences to solve a problem we all share. This means we need candidates that can collaborate with an open mind. In a two-party system, cooperative candidates are filtered out as weak and ineffectual politicians.
The polarity and divisiveness created by the two-party system is grinding progress to a halt. Each side wants to make decisions without consulting the opposition. Values like compromise, wholeness, and collaboration are lost.
How a Three-party System Changes Things
In a three-party system, unwavering conviction becomes less important. A third option makes things more complex, eliminating the possibility of a congressional majority and forcing leaders to solve problems together. Candidates that are not able to collaborate and compromise do not survive.
A third party cannot solve all of our problems, but it would be a big step towards changing the attitude of our government. With a third-party in place, our government would become less about party interests and more about the interests of all Americans.
The #LesserOfTwoEvils Virus
The answer to the two-party problem is simple – vote in a third party candidate!
The problem is that we have been infected with a virus. The virus is the idea that it is okay to choose the “lesser of two evils”, even if you do not believe in the choice. This idea is very contagious, fueled by superficial rationality.
Throughout history, the election results for third-party candidates isn’t pretty (see Time For Another Third-Party Run?). Every once in a while a third-party candidate will make a decent run, but at the end of the day has never won the election.
In addition to the historical failures of the third-party, it is pretty obvious that most Americans are content with a Democrat or Republican candidate.
So we look at the numbers and the current sentiment among Americans and say, “It has never been done and it doesn’t appear like it is going to happen this year, so I’ll go with the lesser of two evils”…and the vicious cycle is complete, the virus continues to spread.
So What Can We Do
All I ask any eligible voter in America to do is vote with their heart. Find a candidate that shares your principles and vote for them. This is the only powerful way to participate in our election process. A vote for the “lesser of two evils” is a cop-out and a forfeit of your power.
The truth is that your vote, isolated by itself, is meaningless. It is a one out of multi-million negligible piece of nothing. The only way to give your vote power is to vote for a candidate that you can fully endorse, or in other words, a vote of passion. The passion behind your vote will cause you to share your ideas with others and change the way they think about voting.
This is not a plea to vote for any specific candidate. It is a plea to all Americans that we vote in a way that is meaningful to each of us, even if that vote becomes meaningless when they announce the results. This is the only way to save our democracy.
”Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” – John Quincy Adams